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Denver's Initiative 300, 'Paid Sick Days Initiative,' Fails

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Initiative 300, also billed as the 'Paid Sick Days' initiative, received a resounding 'no' from voters in yesterday's election.

According to the Denver Post, the issue was failing 64.5 percent to 35.5 percent late last night with the majority of ballots counted.

The initiative would have required employers to give workers paid sick days at a rate of one hour off per every 30 hours worked. Large businesses would have to supply up to nine days of paid leave; small businesses would have been capped at five.

Campaign for a Healthy Denver, a group behind the proposal, advocated the measure as simple commonsense. If workers can take paid sick leave when they are ill, they are less likely to spread their illness to coworkers and customers.

In addition to the National Restaurant Association, a group called Keep Denver Competitive fought the measure. Both groups painted the initiative as an extra expense at a time when restaurants--and the economy as a whole-are struggling.

The group told the HuffPost last week that, "Denver, in particular, is very problematic because they've gone to a ballot initiative," said Scott DeFife, executive vice president of policy and government affairs at the National Restaurant Association. "They've bypassed the city council, the mayor and all the local elected officials. If you want to have paid time off, going to a ballot initiative is the worst-case scenario for sound public policy."

DeFife added, "We're not really trying to debate whether workers in general should have time off when they're ill. This is about the specifics of the initiatives they've been advancing."

In a statement released Wednesday after the election, Campaign for a Healthy Denver spokesperson Erin Bennett said, "The people of Denver lost today - people like home health care nurse Patricia Hughes who was fired after calling in sick with pneumonia; Mandie Freyta, a Latina mother who lost a week's wages because she stayed home with her four children when they had the flu; and people like barista Laura Baker and bartender Eric Love, who have gone to work sick because they need to work every hour they can just to make the rent."

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